Did you know that 1.3 million people in NSW live with a recognised disability? That equates to 1 in 6 within our community, yet many continue to encounter challenges in accessing basic services the rest of us take for granted.
Accessibility is about ensuring our services are available to everyone, regardless of any disability they may have. Everybody benefits from greater accessibility—curbside ramps for instance, originally designed for wheelchair users, now help parents with prams and shoppers with trolleys.
With Global Accessibility Awareness Day coming up on 20 May, I want to share an update highlighting our focus on digital accessibility at Service NSW, our progress in this space so far, and our plans ahead to ensure no-one is left behind.
Service NSW continues to be at the forefront for citizens accessing Government services and support. From bushfire and flood assistance to COVID Safe Check-In and Dine & Discover, our 8+ million customers have never interacted with us so regularly, and more recently, so digitally.
Three years ago, the Service NSW app served 60,000 customers each week. Today the app serves 3.6 million customers each week, and 4.9 million each month. Traffic on the Service NSW website grew 44% in 2020, and so far this year it has leapt a further 334% based on the same period last year.
As our customers’ demand for digital services continues to grow, we have invested in our digital teams and capabilities. This investment extends to accessibility, because it is more important than ever to ensure all customers have fair and equal access to our services.
Our Digital Services teams are making good progress. The GEL guidelines for designers and ‘Kiama’ component library for developers forms the basis of many digital experiences and and fully complies with the latest accessibility standards. In addition, all Service NSW website content is audited regularly to ensure we catch and resolve any gaps that may have been left behind.
While we have made significant progress, there is still much work ahead. Our customer feedback sheds light on how some customers continue to hit roadblocks in their attempts to self-service. Often these customers must call or visit us in person, which can present significant challenges depending on their circumstances. We need to do better, and we will do better.
This year we are rolling out completely new training to all Digital Services team members, so that everyone has the skills and resources to identify and resolve accessibility problems in our products. We are also establishing inclusive design practices in our product development process, to identify and support the needs of a diverse audience: people with disabilities, low literacy, or people with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
We have a long journey ahead but we know it will be worthwhile. We will reduce the pressure on Service NSW Contact and Service Centres, reduce the cost of providing Government services, and most importantly ensure everyone can access the Government services they need 24/7 from the comfort of their own homes.
On Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I encourage you to take note of the number of people you pass by. Remember that 1 in 6 of those people may be living with a disability, whether or not it is visible to you. Together we are committed to doing everything possible to ensure they have a positive experience the next time they interact with the NSW Government.